SBD/April 19, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Can Derrick Rose Shape Off-Court Brand To Mirror On-Court Success?

Rose's endorsement porfolio already includes adidas, Powerade and 2K Sports

From an endorsement standpoint, Bulls G Derrick Rose "seems ready to become the next Michael Jordan, in Chicago at least," according to Danny Ecker of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. The 22-year-old, a favorite to win this season's NBA MVP award, already has deals with adidas, Powerade and 2K Sports as part of an endorsement portfolio that Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing estimates to be worth $1.5-2.5M annually. That would rank Rose "just outside the top 10 among NBA players." But in order to "achieve the fame" Jordan did during his Bulls career, not only will Rose "have to sharply craft his public persona in an era dense with sports celebrities and fueled by social media, he must prove himself professionally by winning championships." His "biggest challenge, though, is his own reticence at basking in the glory." Rose, admittedly a shy person, said of becoming a global brand, "Maybe one day. Right now, the playoffs are the only thing I'm worried about. If we win games, everything will take care of itself." Ecker notes Rose's agent, B.J. Armstrong, can "draw experience from his front-row seat" as Jordan's longtime Bulls teammate, though Rose is "building a brand in a far different environment." He has "more than 2 million fans on his Facebook page," but while "seven of the NBA's 10 most-lucrative endorsers manage their own Twitter accounts," Rose does not (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 4/18 issue).

EAST SIDE STORY: GQ's Wells Tower profiles former NBAer Stephon Marbury under the subhead, "Exiled From The NBA, Vilified By The Press, And Ridiculed For A Series Of Questionable YouTube Videos, Stephon Marbury Is Seeking Redemption -- And Vast Riches -- In Basketball-Mad China." Marbury: "Two years ago, no one would get near me. Now I got (a major American bank) wanting to invest $50 million in my company. Man, China has changed everything for me. Everything." Tower notes "improbable as Marbury's schemes of merchandising/real estate/mobile car wash/import-export magnatehood might sound, it's worth considering that (a) Marbury is arguably the biggest star in the CBA, and (b) in China's increasingly basketball-obsessed but notoriously stingy consumer population, it's hard to imagine a product better poised for success than a celebrity-endorsed sneaker that sells for fifteen bucks." Starbury CFO Gustavus Bass said that Marbury has "so far sunk $10 million of his own pocket cash" into the company, and once Chinese production began, "business was forecast to return profits within a year." Starbury "recently engaged Apple's marketing firm to handle the build-out of their shops," and Bass noted that the brand has "already started churning out a Chinese line of shoes at a cautious volume of 5,000 pairs per month" (GQ, 5/ '11 issue)

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